Holiday bug liars jailed as judge warns fraudsters: Expect the same

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A couple have been jailed for making fake holiday sickness claims in a landmark case.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Deborah Briton, 53, and partner Paul Roberts, 43, tried to claim compensation by stating they and their two children had fallen ill on holidays to Majorca in 2015 and 2016.

But the couple’s social media showed posts where they boasted of holidays full of “sun, laughter and fun”.

Briton sobbed as she was sentenced to nine months in prison after admitting four counts of fraud in the private prosecution, brought by holiday company Thomas Cook.

Roberts, who was sentenced to 15 months after admitting the same offences, cried and shook in the court throughout the hearing on Friday.

Family members, including Briton’s daughter Charlene, who had initially been charged with two counts of fraud which were later dropped, shouted out in court as the couple were sent down.

Majorca
Ms Briton and Mr Roberts had been to Majorca with their children for two years in a row (Nick Ansell/PA)

The court heard the couple, from Wallasey, Wirral, tried to claim nearly £20,000 for the fake gastric illnesses and would have also cost the holiday firm a further £28,000 in legal expenses had their claims been successful.

Sentencing, Judge David Aubrey QC said their claims had been a “complete and utter sham”.

He said: “They were bogus from start to finish, you were both asserting on your behalfs and on behalf of your two children that on two separate holidays you had suffered illness. They were totally and utterly fake.”

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts, who was sentenced to 15 months, cried and shook in the dock throughout the hearing (Peter Byrne/PA)

He said the claims, made in August last year, must have required planning and premeditation.

He said: “Why? Pure greed. Seeking to get something for nothing.”

Judge Aubrey said there had been an “explosion” in gastric illness claims made by holidaymakers from the UK.

Thomas Cook
Thomas Cook said it had to take a stand against the minority of customers who try to cheat the system (Tim Goode/PA)

He said: “Those who may be tempted in the future to make a dishonest claim in relation to fake holiday sickness, if they are investigated and brought to justice, whatever the circumstances of an individual, he or she must expect to receive an immediate custodial sentence.”

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